Canada: Dangerous price situation for Okanagan orchardists

While Okanagan orchardists are receiving 14 cents a pound for their apples, the cost to grow them in 2019 was 25 cents a pound. This scenario is financially disastrous. In fact, disastrous was the very word used in the title of a late, special resolution tabled at the beginning of the 131st annual B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association general meeting Tuesday at the Coast Capri Hotel.

“Orchardists need huge help,” said association president Pinder Dhaliwal. “The problem is complex and extreme, and the solution has to be complex and extreme, too.”

Before the annual general meeting started Tuesday, a package of 28 pages of agendas, information and resolutions was circulated to the 500 association members. However, it was the late, special resolution printed on a single yellow sheet that was handed out shortly after the meeting started that instantly got to the heart of the problem and the possible solutions.

“It’s of paramount importance that farmers get help after the historically low apple prices of 2019,” said Dhaliwal. “We cannot continue on as is.”

Okanagan orchardists have faced dire years for decades as land costs rise, returns bounce all over the place and traditional agriculture is forced to modernize and compete globally. However, the most recent crisis started in the 2017 and 2018 crop years, when orchardists didn’t receive good returns.

Worse was 2019, with the first advance from B.C. Tree Fruits, the co-operative that packs and markets much of the Okanagan’s fruit, the lowest ever.

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